Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Pages/Word Count: 259 Pages
At a Glance: I don’t know how to say this any plainer—I love this book for all the reasons I’ve listed, and probably for at least a dozen more that I’ve left out.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Will a dark history doom their future together?
New York copper Tom Halloran is a man with a past. If anyone finds out he once ran with the notorious O’Connell tunnel gang, he’ll spend the rest of his life doing hard time behind bars. But Tom’s secret is threatened when a horrible murder on his beat seems to have been caused by the same ancient magic that killed his gang.
Cat shifter Cicero is determined to investigate the disappearance of one friend and the death of another, even though no one else believes the cases are connected. When the trail of his investigation crosses Tom’s, the very bohemian Cicero instinctively recognizes the uncultured Irish patrolman as his witch. Though they’re completely unsuited to one another, Cicero has no choice but to work alongside Tom…all the while fighting against the passion growing within.
Tom knows that taking Cicero as his familiar would only lead to discovery and disaster. Yet as the heat between them builds, Tom’s need for the other man threatens to overcome every rational argument against becoming involved.
But when their investigation uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all of New York, Tom must make the hardest decision of his life: to live a lie and gain his heart’s desire, or to confess the truth and sacrifice it all.
Review: You know how you’re reading a book, and you’re reading, and you’re reading, and then, all of a sudden…tears? Yup. Or, you’re reading, and you’re reading, and you’re reading and then, all of a sudden…siiiighs. Yup.
I’m not sure where to begin with this review because it seems like every time I finish a Jordan L. Hawk book, I think, “Well, this one is my favorite,” and I don’t even feel like I’m lying to myself when I think it. This author exhibits some serious word mojo in her storytelling repertoire, and I can’t seem to help getting sucked into the lives of her characters with a predictable repetitiveness—it’s Reading Under the Influence of perfect prose or something.
I want to pour my heart out and spill bodacious amounts of love into this review, because while I knew I was going to adore Cicero to manic depths, I had no idea how much I would come to love Tom too. Let it be noted that it’s massive amounts, please, and let it also be noted that I couldn’t have predicted how much Hawk would outdo herself in terms of the storyline, world-building, and the ramifications of the sort of power and magic that would be unleashed in this world when its accessibility to a diverse population meant that the responsibility for that power could fall into the hands of the criminal element in a bid to do so many bad things with it.
Cicero, our black cat familiar, is much more than just a pretty face, certainly more complex than we saw when he was introduced in The 13th Hex, and Tom Halloran misjudged him when they first met. Cicero is smart and brave and resourceful and free-spirited and a little hedonistic (all things one Oscar Wilde would have found too, too charming, I’m sure), all while letting us know he’s 100% feline—at once aloof and then affectionate, sinuous and sly, haughty yet skittish for good reason around big brutes like Tom, who have never hesitated to shore up their manhood by showing Cicero their fists. Or, at least that’s who Cicero believes Tom to be at first, nothing more than muscle and mean wrapped around a black heart.
Tom didn’t deliberately set out to prove that appearances can be deceiving, to prove that just because he’s built like a brick wall it doesn’t mean he uses his size to bully and intimidate the people he’s sworn to protect and to serve. That happens for no other reason than Tom is a good man and a good copper, through and through…even if he doesn’t believe he is because of the secret burden he carries like the weight of the world on his broad shoulders. Tom is brawn, Cicero is bohemian, and they couldn’t be more opposite in nature, but the spark that Cicero senses between them—the one that reveals Tom is his witch—is undeniable. The way these two men each underestimate the other and then work their way into each other’s lives and hearts is sweet and intimate and oh-so-fragile; the growing trust in and bond with each other, ever so sublime.
Which is what makes it all the more painful when Tom’s past comes back to haunt him. He’s tried so hard to atone for that past by being honorable to the Nth degree that we see so clearly he uses his experiences as a means to guide his conscience. But, as reality will attest to, secrets always have a way of coming back to bite our best intentions right on the arse, don’t they?
Once again, Hawk has captured the nuances of the historical time period in which this novel is set, a post-Boss Tweed/pre-turn-of-the-century New York City in which the cops were sometimes every bit as corrupt as the criminals, the place where a melting pot of humanity were freshly landed to grab hold of the American dream—only to discover that survival often meant a hardscrabble existence where the profit of crime maintained a certain level of appeal, and the city was ripe for an anarchy that would bring about a change in power. And again, the atmosphere is drawn out to perfection in the sights and sounds and the often unappealing scents that permeated the air. I love to sit down to read a historical novel and become grounded in its setting, especially a historical novel that bleeds unreality into it—Hexbreaker does that with ease. Hawk offers the perfect balance of detail without burdening the pace of the narrative with extraneous description, and in every scene you’re right there with the characters.
The action and suspense, the ebb and flow of deceit and danger in this novel, are nothing less than superior. Not only are the characters brimming with personality and attitude, but the emotional quotient in Hexbreaker is some of the most affective I’ve ever read from this author. I don’t know how to say this any plainer—I can’t stop thinking about this book. I love it for all the reasons I’ve listed, and probably for at least a dozen more that I’ve left out.
You can buy Hexbreaker here: